Advent Calendar Day 13: Joseph est bien marié

Another Joseph carol, a bit less well-known than the various iterations of the cherry tree.  This is a traditional French carol which I haven’t been able to find a provenance for, but certainly sounds like it’s from the Renaissance (not weird enough to the modern ear to be medieval, but the instrumentation and tune is definitely pre-baroque.  Also, it sounds like incidental music from any Shakespeare play you’d care to mention, which is definitely Renaissance or pseudo-renaissance…)

The title basically means “Joseph married well”.  I’ve put a (hasty and probably bad – it’s late at night and I’m on a break from confectionery) translation below, but again, I’m being fairly brief because my finger is still kind of painful to type with.  Also, not all the verses they sing are in the translation below, but this was the best I could do…

I did discover in my travels that Claude Balbastre wrote a rather lovely organ voluntary consisting of variations on this melody.  This is definitely worth your attention if you like harpsichord or organ music.


Joseph est bien marié à la fille de Jessé.

C’était chose bien nouvelle D’être mère et pucelle.
Dieu y avait opéré: Joseph est bien marié.

Et quand ce fut au premier Que Dieu voulut nous sauver
Il fit en terre descendre Son seul fils Jésus pour prendre
En Marie humanité: Joseph est bien marié.

Quand Joseph eut aperçu Que la femme avait conçu
Il ne s’en contenta mie, Fâché fut contre Marie,
Et se voulut en aller: Joseph est bien marié.

Mais l’ange si lui a dit: Joseph n’en aie point dépit,
Ta sainte femme Marie Est grosse du fruit de vie.
Elle a conçu sans péché: Joseph est bien marié.

Les anges y sont venus Voir le Rédempteur Jésus.
De très belle compagnie, Püis à haute voix jolie
Gloria ils ont chanté: Joseph est bien marié.

Or prions dévôtement De bon coeur et humblement.
Que paix, joie et bonne vie Impêtre Dame Marie
A notre nécessité: Joseph est bien marié.

Joseph married well, to the daughter of Jesse
This was something very new, to be mother and virgin
God made it so: Joseph married well.

And when God first wanted to redeem us

He made his only son Jesus descend to earth
To take human form through Mary: Joseph married well.

When Joseph realised that the woman was with child
He wasn’t happy at all, he was angry with Mary
And wanted to leave her: Joseph married well.

But the angel said to him: Joseph, do not think ill of her
Your holy wife Mary is big with the fruit of life
She has conceived without sin: Joseph married well.

The angels came to see the Saviour Jesus

In gorgeous company, then with loud, beautiful voices
They sang gloria!  Joseph married well!

Therefore we pray with devotion, sincerity and humbleness
That our Intercessor, Lady Mary, may bring peace, joy and good life
in our necessities: Joseph married well.

(apologies for that last line – Renaissance French is not my strong suit, so it’s very approximate)

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0 comments for “Advent Calendar Day 13: Joseph est bien marié

  1. December 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Doesn’t it really mean “Joseph is a hot water bath to keep your food warm in?”

    • December 13, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      Pour les diners rechauffés
      Joseph est un bain marie…

      Doesn’t really rhyme if you spell bain marie properly, but there you have it…

  2. filkferengi
    December 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I have this very cd; thanks for the lovely reminder to listen to it again!

    Btw, Mediaeval Baebes has a new double-cd out, “The Huntress”; have you seen it yet?

    • December 23, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      I have it, but haven’t had time to listen to it.

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